Eddie Gilbert was the third contestant to be eliminated on Season 5 of “The Next Food Network Star” this past Sunday. Gilbert made a watermelon/red onion/feta salad that one judge claimed was “indedible,” and he was on the elimination block each of the first three episodes. We had the chance to ask Gilbert a few questions (thanks Food Network and Electric Artists!) about his experience on the show and what the future holds:

Premium Hollywood: Do you think you should have chosen your own recipe instead of using a Paula Deen recipe, and do you think that was ultimately your downfall?

Eddie Gilbert: It wasn’t an exact recipe from a Paula Deen cookbook. I definitely put my own spin on it. As far as it leading to my downfall, I don’t know.

PH: Do you feel being paired with Melissa in the challenge hurt your chances?

EG: I don’t know if being paired with Melissa hurt my chances. I may have preferred being paired with someone who had a similar cooking style to mine. But, at that point in the competition, I had two strikes against me and my back was against the wall, and I would have preferred to not be paired with anyone. When your life is on the line, you want your success or failure to fall on your shoulders alone.

PH: Looking back on the first three weeks, would you have done anything differently if you could start over again?

EG: Looking back, I may have done a few things differently. In the first challenge, I should have come out of the gates swinging. I was definitely a bit reserved during my presentation, and should have been more animated. I also would have made an additional dish for the buffet. I had always planned to make two dishes, and when Debbie couldn’t find what I wanted for dessert, I should have taken more control of the situation and solved the problem.

PH: What is next for your own culinary career?

EG: My career is all ahead of me. I am spending the summer traveling the country cooking with a few different chefs, and plan on getting back in a Los Angeles kitchen come fall. I have started a website called www.foods4dudes.com, which is a one-stop-shop dedicated to everything about food. Its main goal is to make cooking accessible to the 21-35 year old demographic, showing people how to make great food, while saving time and money. I plan on opening my own restaurant too, but that is down the road a bit. For now, I am just gonna enjoy the ride and see where it takes me. This show was the birth of my culinary career, and although I will always be a kid at heart, I can’t wait to grow up!